Important Legislation to Protect Food Flavoring Workers from Severe Lung Disease

          In September, by a vote of 260 to 154, the U.S. House of Representative approved legislation intended to prevent workers in food processing plants from getting a debilitating, irreversible lung disease that has already sickened and killed a number of workers nationwide.

          This legislation has pushed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to issue a Safety and Health Information Bulletin which should encourage employers to limit workers exposures to Diacetyl, a chemical used in artificial food flavoring for microwave popcorn and other foods.  Diacetyl exposure has been linked to bronchiolitis obliterans, a severe lung disease often known as “popcorn lung.”  Despite mounting evidence over several years of the dangers of popcorn lung, OSHA has failed to take action to limit diacetyl exposure, while thousands of workers are still being exposed to diacetyl at factories that make or use food flavorings. 

          According to OSHA, the purpose of the Safety and Health Information Bulletin is to:  

  • Provide employees and employers in the microwave popcorn industry with information about the potential health effects associated with exposure to butter flavorings.
  • Recommend exposure controls that may be implemented by employers and used by employees at these facilities to reduce exposures to butter flavorings and
  • Inform employers of applicable mandatory OSHA standards. 

To read the Legislation in entirety go to:
http://www.house.gov/apps/list/speech/edlabor_dem/rel092607b.html

To read the Safety and Health Information Bulletin go to:
http://www.osha.gov/dts/shib/shib092107.html

For additional information regarding this issue go to:
OSHA Issues Hazard Communication Guidance for Diacetyl and Food Flavorings containing Diacetyl 

NIOSH Publication No. 2004-110, Preventing Lung Disease in workers Who Use or Make Flavorings  

The Connection Between Popcorn Lung and Diacetyl http://www.goiam.org/index.php/headquarters/106-2007-archive/477-the-connection-between-popcorn-lung-and-diacetyl